Things are changing, or perhaps they won’t, but this could be the start of a great family adventure. Together with my husband Kieron, our two children – Scarlett (6) and Max (4) – and Grandma Fiona, we are looking at escaping to the continent in a permanent move to France.
It is now April 2014. The plan is to make the move next summer. That gives us more than a year to do our research, get the kids used to the idea and brush up our language skills (i.e. resurrect the few French phrases we can remember from school and hopefully build on those). During the summer holidays we will take a trip to the Poitou-Charentes or Aquitaine region of France. We will visit a few towns and cities we like the look of, check out the facilities and soak up the general ambience of the place. We must make sure to do plenty of fun activities with the kids so that they are completely on board with the idea of the move. With any luck we will bump into a few ex-pats, who will be filled with tales of positive experiences of living in France!
We plan to hire a language tutor for the kids or send them to after school club or similar. I think if we do that and buy some French games to play regularly and let them watch a bit of French TV on YouTube they should at least pick up a little of the language. I know that people say kids under the age of 8 pick up the language really quickly (mine will be 7 and 5 by next summer), but I don’t want their first experiences at school in France to seem completely alien and scary.
With more than 12 months to investigate the practicalities of life in France I’m optimistic that will give me plenty of opportunity for making lots of comforting lists – which I will, of course, share here. But there’s a great deal to research: healthcare, education, shopping (very important!), taxation and benefits, property, employment and business… not to mention the logistics of the move. I guess I’d better stop typing and do some reading.